This week we sat at Top of the Rock, the highest elevation in Taney County near Branson, owned by Johnny Morris who continues to develop the area with outdoor-related amenities.
Our host, Scott Faughn, was joined by Western Commissioner Brandon Williams and Branson Centennial Museum Curator and White River Valley Historical Society member James (Jim) Babcock and his wife Jean.
Both sides of Williams’ family have been in Taney County for years. His great-grandparents on his mom’s side came to Taney County around 1917 from Chicago and helped begin the first newspaper in the area, White Water Weekly. Williams’ dad when to Hollister and his mom went to Branson.
Jean Babcock knew Branson as a child because her father was an auditor for a company in the area. Jim was brought to Branson as a child in the early 30’s to fish on the White River with his father. Jean and Jim met in college and lived in Michigan for 45 years. The Branson Centennial Museum is the third museum that the Babcocks have helped start.
Taney County is located in the southwest portion of Missouri. The population was 51,675 according to the 2010 census.
The county was organized on Jan. 4, 1837 and is named for Roger Brooke Taney, the fifth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The county’s seat resides in Forsyth and its largest city is Branson.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast to learn how Taney’s name is actually pronounced.
The first courthouse was built on the mouth of Bull Creek by early pioneers in 1837. The county’s second courthouse, in Forsyth, was destroyed in a Civil War battle on July 22, 1861, and the rebuilt was destroyed by fire on Dec. 19, 1885. A third courthouse was built and then removed in 1952. The fourth and present courthouse was occupied on Aug. 1, 1952. Tune in to the podcast and hear the stories on the courthouse and the additions that were built.
Osage Indians were predominantly in the area. Around 1818, a man named Henry Schoolcraft was known as someone who came up White River and settled the area and brought what Taney County is today.
Listen to the full podcast to hear about Schoolcraft’s journey to Taney County and the first published book about the Ozarks and the musical instruments made by the Osage Indians for entertainment.
During the Civil War, Taney County experienced a lot of back and forth with the Union and Confederates fighting over Forsyth. Taney County was known for being very neutral during the war because they wanted to have each state be able to do whatever they wanted as far as slavery was concerned.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast to hear about the constant take over of Forsyth between the Union and Confederate soldiers, what Taney County residents felt was the big issue and the Gaylor family.
When the railroad came through Forsyth after the Civil War, there was a huge jump in the population about 28 percent, then 42 percent in the 1890s and 35 percent in the 1900s.
Tune in to the full podcast to hear about the businesses in Taney County and the focus on tourism and entertainment whether it be a show, shop or the lake. As well as how golf came to Branson and attracted politicians and celebrities.
Today, Taney County has seven public school districts: Bradleyville R-I School District (PreK-12), Branson R-IV School District (PreK-12), Forsyth R-III School District (K-12), Hollister R-V School District (PreK-12), Kirbyville R-VI School District (K-8), Mark Twain R-VIII (K-8) in Rueter and Taneyville R-II School District (K-8). There are four private schools in the county, one alternative school and two colleges Ozarks Technical Community College in Hollister and College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout.
The county has two public libraries Forsyth Public Library and Taneyhills Community Library.
Jolie Justus, former Missouri Senate Minority Leader, is from Taney County. Her family still resides here.
Politically speaking, Taney County is controlled by the Republican Party. Republicans hold every elected position at the local level.
White River Valley Co-op serves Taney County as well as Empire Electric, both are very important to the county. Western Commissioner Williams shared that there is “a great partnership with the entities and businesses” in terms of the co-op and community.
Be sure to listen to the full podcast to learn about the start of entertainment in Branson in the 1950’s, the first performances done and what kind of attraction Branson has become today.
Our guests said that if you are ever traveling to Taney County, be sure to take in the natural beauty, people and atmosphere. Visit the Branson Centennial Museum to learn about the history of the area and check out College of the Ozarks.